Ask Me 3
The Iowa Medical Society has joined the Partnership for Clear Health Communications, a national, nonprofit coalition of organizations working together to promote awareness and solutions around the issue of low health literacy and its effect on health outcomes. The coalition is responsible for an educational program called AskMe3, a tool designed to improve health communication between patients and providers.
Through patient and provider education materials developed by leading health literacy experts (available at www.npsf.org/askme3/), AskMe3 promotes three simple but essential questions that patients should ask their physicians in every health care interaction:
- What is my main problem?
- What do I need to do?
- Why is it important for me to do this?
According to the Institute of Medicine, nearly half of all American adults - 90 million people - have difficulty understanding and using health information. Health literacy is the ability to read, understand and effectively use basic medical instructions and information. Low health literacy affects people of any age, ethnicity, background or education level.
People with low health literacy:
- Are often less likely to comply with prescribed treatment and self-care regimens.
- Fail to seek preventive care and are at higher (more than double) risk for hospitalization.
- Remain in the hospital nearly two days longer than adults with higher health literacy.
- Often require additional care that results in annual health care costs that are four times higher than those with higher literacy skills.
Health literacy is important for physicians to be aware of because changes are high that some of their patients are among the 90 million people in the United States whose health may be at risk because of difficulty in understanding and acting on health information. In fact, you may not even know that these patients are in your practice because:
- They are often embarrassed or ashamed to admit they have difficulty understanding health information and instructions.
- They are using well-practiced coping mechanisms that effectively mask their problem.
For additional information or to download patient brochures, visit www.npsf.org/askme3/ or call 1-877-427-5633.